in: Advice, Character, Podcast

• Last updated: September 29, 2021

Podcast #271: The Power of Wonder

We’ve all likely experienced those moments in life in which our breath is literally taken away; at the same time that we feel existentially small, our spirits seem to greatly expand. It’s a singular feeling that we call wonder. 

But why do we feel wonder? What purpose does it serve in our survival and flourishing as humans? Why does it get harder and harder to feel wonder as you get older? Is it possible to recapture that lost wonder — to manufacture it in some way?

My guest today explores these questions in his book Wonder: From Emotion to SpiritualityHis name is Robert Fuller and he’s a professor of Religious Studies at Bradley University. Today on the show, Robert and I discuss the psychology and biology of wonder, why researchers haven’t really studied wonder, and the benefits of experiencing it in our lives on a regular basis. We also explore how wonder shaped the lives and careers of men like John Muir and William James, how religion ritualizes wonder, and whether we can take action to experience more wonder in our lives. This podcast will leave you wondering a lot about wonder. 

Show Highlights

  • What is wonder?
  • What causes wonder?
  • Why wonder is the least-studied of our emotions
  • Why wonder doesn’t fit into the typical family of emotions and feelings
  • How wonder impacts the way we see the world
  • The evolutionary advantages and benefits of wonder
  • The experiences that can cause wonder
  • Why kids experience wonder more easily than adults
  • Famous men whose lives were guided by wonder
  • How wonder connects to other disciplines/sciences likes psychology, physiology, philosophy, etc.
  • The connection between wonder and rituals, religion, and spirituality
  • Does exploring the science of wonder take some of the wonder out of wonder?
  • Can wonder be facilitated in one’s life? Is there something we can do to inject more of it into our existence?

Resources Mentioned in Podcast

Wonder, book cover page.

If you’re looking to understand how wonder works and why we need it in our lives, pick up a copy of Robert’s book WonderThe vignettes about John Muir and William James were very enlightening and inspiring.

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